Shivraj Patil undertakes aerial survey of areas affected by floods
BANGALORE: The Centre has announced the release of Rs. 250 crore for flood relief in Bidar, Raichur, Bijapur, Bagalkot, Belgaum and Gulbarga districts of North Karnataka.
Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil made this announcement here on Wednesday after an aerial survey of some of the six districts affected by floods. Mr. Patil later flew to Bangalore to attend a high-level meeting in which Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy, Deputy Chief Minister B.S. Yediyurappa, Ministers and Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly N. Dharam Singh and Congress leaders participated.
Mr. Patil told presspersons after the meeting that it discussed the immediate steps to be taken to mitigate the loss of lives and property. He said that although Rs. 250 crore might seem inadequate, the Centre was doing its best.
The State Government had sought a Rs. 1,600-crore package for the six districts. Mr. Kumaraswamy wrested an assurance from Mr. Patil during a visit to Delhi a few days ago that a Central team would visit the State to assess the extent of loss.
The team subsequently visited the flood-hit districts, Mr. Patil said. From its report he had gathered that Karnataka's drought problems seemed more widespread than the recent floods. The State Government had made a presentation of its own assessment of the damage and the relief measures needed, he said.
Mr. Patil said that at Wednesday's meeting, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee president M. Mallikarjun Kharge, along with Mr. Kumaraswamy and Mr. Yediyurappa, had specifically sought foodgrains on a contingency basis for distribution to those who had been displaced by the floods and had lost crops, livestock and even their houses.
Mr. Patil said he had sought from the State Government a detailed plan to put in place a permanent mechanism for disaster management. That would be forwarded to the National Disaster Management Authority, and a permanent system could be established for disaster management. He said Karnataka and other States facing either floods or drought were coping as best they could, but there would still be complaints. "Even the Centre is at the receiving end of such complaints and we are alive to the issue doing the best we can," he said.
In the past few days, Mr. Kumaraswamy and Mr. Yediyurappa had expressed unhappiness over the Centre's "slow response to the State's demand for urgent release of funds." The State Government's estimate was that nearly 10.3 lakh people in eight districts were affected by floods.